Old February 23, 2016, 07:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[Medonian Woods] Squeaking By

PONUTIS, WINTER, ERA XXIII
MEDONIAN WOODS

Gerum stared at the grub worm squirming in his hand. It had been turned onto its back when he plucked it from the bark, and was now unsuccessfully trying to latch onto something, anything with its legs. They wriggled in a frenzy, grasping only the crisp breeze that moved between the leaves and branches of the woods. After a few seconds it paused, as if to give in to its pending demise. Gerum brought his palm up to eye level and examined his dinner. Brown lines seperated its white and plump segments with a black spot on each. The dirtied, slimy legs began moving again. Its head swung wildly back and forth, too tiny to make out the details. Gerum was grateful for this as he squeezed its neck in between his fingers. With one chomp, Gerum's yellowed teeth snapped its head from its body. He spit it quickly onto the ground. There was no sense in getting bit. Gerum closed his eyes for a moment and prepared his stomach.

Food out in the woods had been hard to come by. He had spent most of the day scavenging, a mostly futile attempt, save a few berries throughout the afternoon and a small, edible mushroom just before evening. The reliable sources of the day had been the stream's clean water, and the bugs that littered the woods. Wild game was out of the question. Gerum had no idea how to fashion a bow or make traps. He was still settling into his new life of being mostly isolated, and he wondered how long he'd survive out here off of bugs and berries alone. Still, it was freeing, knowing the only interactions in his day consisted of listening to droves of songbirds and making brief eye contact with the rarer doe before it scampered off.

Eyes still closed, Gerum lifted the headless grub over his mouth and dropped it down his throat. Disgusting, he thought as it slid down into his stomach, but better than nothing. He couldn't bare to chew it though. With a sigh he opened his eyes. The cool breeze was starting to pick up, bringing the evening chill with it. He rubbed his hands together. Time to go home.

The trees seemed to chatter back and forth to one another as he made his way back to his camp. A dull conversation, no doubt. The only exciting thing out here was the occassional bandit, which Gerum really hoped to avoid. As Gerum walked, underneath that branch, around this fern, over that pool of mud, the dead leaves crunched, chastising his every step. It was nearly impossible not to make noise when mostly everything in one's environment was so quiet. When disrupted, which was quite often while he wandered about, the forest replied with aggravated sounds. Perhaps in time it would aquiesce to his presence.

Finally Gerum reached his camp. He had made a home in a small clearing close enough to a stream that he could hear its running water in the still moments of the night. His bed doubled as a hiding spot for his wine during the day; a large hollowed tree, long dead. It looked as if it had been struck by lightning with its gray and blackened bark. Gerum ducked into the tree, grabbing his second to last bottle of wine. It was half empty. He popped out the cork to take a quick swig, knowing he would have to leave the peaceful surroundings soon to travel to town for more. Money was an issue as well. He was very nearly broke, but he supposed that was a worry for tomorrow.

Gerum savored the taste of the cheap wine before he shoved the cork back in, and set it on the ground. The evening wasn't going to get any younger, and he needed fire. The irony of being a Mac'Flint but not having any to strike a spark didn't escape Gerum. With an annoyed huff, he walked around behind the tree to his stash of firewood and kindling. This was the worst part of his day, and he wasn't always victorious in making a flame. That made for some very cold nights, and the winter, while mild, was unforgiving of failed firestarters. A few nights he had wondered if he was going to live to see the morning, having tried to start a flame for hours before passing out from exhaustion. Still, he had awoken each morning, ready to survive one more day. He wondered if he would be lucky tonight as he grabbed the two best looking sticks out of the pile and began furiously scraping them together.

Last edited by Gerum; February 24, 2016 at 12:14 AM.
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Old February 26, 2016, 04:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Darkening found the MacFlint well before his campfire showed any promise. Gerum managed to get the sticks hot but no further, likely due to the recent snow in the Medonian Woods. Snow was just another word for water, and water didn’t play nice with firewood even in the best of scenarios.

It was starting to look like another freezing night when Gerum suddenly sneezed. Somehow, he managed to rub the sticks with enough desperation that they began to generate heat. And smoke. Turns out that Gerum wasn’t a fan of the smoke, his nose voicing its objections in spurts and sneezes.

Then the MacFlint felt it. A strange warmth, crawling from his arms and bathing his surroundings with tiny flickers of light. The fire was small but it was there. He probably needed more kindling before it was snuffed out by the cold and snow.
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Old March 2, 2016, 04:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Licks of light illuminated Gerum's arms, crawling to his elbows, dancing up and down his wrists, providing a luxury of warmth he scarcely experienced. He sneezed as the smoke seeped into his nostrils, somewhat victoriously, and he was careful not to blow out the arduous work sitting between his hands. More kindling was needed, quickly. Gathering more dry grass, he knew, would be a chore as soon as he set hand on the pile of kindling. Most of it was sopping wet. The flame was now thinner than a candle's and waved an omen of a cold night to come.

Frenzied thoughts spun through Gerum's mind while he tore one-armed through the pile of wet grass and muddy twigs. Winter nights came fast, like an assiduous rider in black, leaving little time to prepare for the frigid hours. Gerum hadn't realized he'd been gone from the camp so long since brightening, and now the shadowed trees around him, heard but not seen, cackled at his foolery. He reached the middle of the kindling pile with a glimpse of relief. Dry grass, or at least dry enough. The flame in his left hand had nearly vanished. Tendrils of a chilled breeze crept up his wrist, numbing his fingers, trying to steal the fading warmth from his palm. Another sneeze told Gerum to not abandon hope, even as the last of the light flickered out, and all around him went dark. He placed the grass on the warmest part of his left hand and cupped the fading moments of its heat. And blew.

The grass crepitated before bursting into a small glow. The young flare was hungry, devouring the kindling Gerum held, hissing for more. He responded compliantly with an offering of twigs while he shuffled together the makings of his campfire. A rushed assortment of tinder, sticks, and part of a cracked stump was all he could manage with the heat lashing at the fingers of his left hand. He hurried to his firepit, a loose circle of stones in front of the entrance to his hollow tree, and began nourishing his only chance of a comfortable rest. As he crouched, fiddling with the firewood, the wet ground seeped through the large leaves shoddily tied around Gerum's sandals. A damp reminder tapping his toes, he was not to forget winter made no promises.
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Old March 2, 2016, 06:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Dry grass turned to kindling easily but it was also snuffed out and turned into husks or fibers just as quickly. But Gerum managed to bring together more things that burned, stuffing it into his makeshift campfire and watched as the embers bloomed and grew. Soon he had a respectable fire gnawing away at what kindling he had on hand. They would suffice for the time being, but it was best to gather more before he needed it so desperately.

The cold and wet woodlands looked even less inviting now that the vagabond found warmth and light. So he procrastinated a little bit ...allowing his bones to soak in the heat as a prize. Suddenly, Gerum noticed ...chatter in his periphery. No, not chatter or noise. But rather ...feelings. He felt the same sense of relief and contentment emanating from somewhere near his sandaled foot. And when he glanced down, he found a small family of wood mice huddled by the fire, shivering the cold off their fur.
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